About developmental regression
Signs of developmental regression
- babbling, making noises, saying single words or using gestures
- being interested in playing with others
- using fingers to grab, pick up and handle objects
- crawling, standing, walking or moving.
- saying words, talking or using gestures
- understanding verbal instructions or gestures
- interacting with others or being interested in others
- walking, running or moving
- dressing or undressing, tying shoes, showering or brushing teeth on their own
- focusing and paying attention
- writing, reading, maths, time management or organisational skills.
What to do for children and teenagers with signs of developmental regression
- Paediatrician – this doctor can help if your child has lost developmental skills, including social, language, daily living or school-based skills.
- Neurologist – this doctor can help if the skill loss seems to be caused by problems with your child’s brain or nervous system.
- Clinical geneticist – this doctor can help if the skill loss seems to be caused by a genetic condition.
- Metabolic specialist or endocrinologist – this doctor can help if the skill loss seems to be caused by problems with your child’s metabolism.
- Psychiatrist or other mental health professional – this doctor can help if there are concerns about your child’s mental health.
Children and teenagers with skill loss might also have mental health problems in childhood or mental health problems in adolescence. For example, a child who can’t communicate like they used to might develop very low mood. If you’re concerned about your child’s mental health, it’s important to talk to your child’s doctor about your child’s mental health as well as their skill loss.
Diagnosing developmental regression in children and teenagers
- what skill your child has lost
- how long the skill has been gone for
- what skills your child had before they lost the skill.
When developmental regression is diagnosed early, children can get early treatment and support too.
Treatment and support for children and teenagers with developmental regression
- A speech pathologist might help your child with their communication skills.
- An occupational therapist might help your child with their movement skills and daily activities like showering or dressing.
- A psychologist might help your child with their behaviour and learning.
It can be upsetting to watch your child lose skills, so it’s important to look after yourself too. Looking after yourself physically, mentally and emotionally is good for you, and it’s good for your child and family. When you’re well, you’ll be better able to care for and support your child and family.
Developmental regression and other conditions
Children with the following conditions often have developmental regression, before or after diagnosis:
- childhood dementia conditions, like mucopolysaccharidosis.
- developmental and epileptic encephalopathies (DEEs), like Landau Kleffner syndrome
- Down syndrome
- Phelan-McDermid syndrome (PMS)
- Rett syndrome.
Autistic regression is when children or teenagers lose communication and social skills and are later diagnosed with autism.